Number of gamers worldwide hits 2.2 billion

The number of gamers worldwide has grown to over 2.2bn and is expected to surpass 2.6bn by the end of the decade, according to the latest figures.

According to a report from gaming market intelligence firm Newzoo, nearly 30% of the world’s population now play games, with much of that growth coming from the mobile sector.

In the decade since Apple launched the original iPhone, mobile gaming has grown to be worth $4.61bn (£3.25bn) and encapsulate 42% of the total gaming market. And as smartphone penetration grows in areas such as India and China, the sector continues grow at 19% each year with little sign of a slowdown.

More than a billion people now spend money while playing games, demonstrating the shift away from advertising-funded games to “freemium” titles funded by in-game purchases, such as the wildly popular Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga franchises.

Nonetheless, truly free games also remain hugely popular with players. Titles like Lego Bionicle Mask Of Creation and Dumb Ways To Die have amassed over 50 million downloads. And it is not just free titles from the app stores that have found much popularity, with millions of people also choosing to use their browser to play free online casino games, or phenomenons such as 2048 or

As the gaming sector expands, the language we use when describing players and games need to be updated, as it fails to encapsulate the broad variations in the types of games and gaming content now enjoyed by people across the world.

After publishing the report Newzoo chief executive, Peter Warman, pointed out that the terms “publisher” and “game developer” were no longer accurate in describing the increasingly broad games industry, where games are played by people of all ages and sexes on a dizzying array of devices. Moreover, the rapid growth in the number of people that enjoyed games as spectators, is set to further redefine the industry in 2019, with some now calling to class video games more as spectator sports than pastimes.

While much of the cultural media attention of today is focused on the “golden era of television” with Netflix and others funding more great series than ever before, we should not forget that we are also living in a time where gaming has become so ubiquitous that it may now be the world’s great shared pastime.

Photograph by Parampreet Chanana